Unfair Depiction

Steven Plaut’s description of France in his article “Le Bouffon Grandiose” (op-ed, May 5,) does not fit the facts.

First, actor Dieudonn?‘s provocative remarks are his alone and he has been convicted and fined by a French court, on the basis of the Lellouche Act which is among the world’s toughest legislation on hate speech and anti-Semitism.

Second, to claim that an individual’s anti-Semitism reflects French society as a whole is unjust and wrong: According to a poll published in Maariv in September 2005, 82 percent of the French like the Jews, with France ranking second among countries expressing a positive opinion (after the Netherlands).

Anti-Semitism is in total contradiction with France’s values. As President Jacques Chirac declared on Nov. 17, 2003, “When a Jew is attacked in France, it is an attack against the whole of France.” The French Government has demonstrated its absolute determination to fight this scourge, and its efforts have been widely recognized by both the Israeli authorities and the national leaders of the American Jewish community. Its zero-tolerance policy has borne fruit: anti-Semitic acts in France declined 48 percent in 2005 compared with 2004.

Finally, Mr. Plaut’s references to an “Islamic republic” in France are totally baseless. France is actively pursuing a strategy both to combat radical Islam and better integrate its Muslim community into the French society. France acted to stop the Eurosat satellite from rebroadcasting Al Manar channel programs to its territory and moved successfully to have Yahoo.fr filter Internet sites promoting hate and anti-Semitism.

Fran?ois Delattre
Consul General of France
New York, NY

McCain And Israel (I)

I read last week’s front-page story about Senator John McCain with great interest (“McCain: ‘Proudly Pro-Israel’ “). What mattered to me more than the substance of Sen. McCain’s reactions to the “misimpressions” about his Mideast policy contained in that Haaretz article was the fact that he was so anxious to correct the record.

The options for an American president when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are not all that numerous and I suspect that the pre-June 1967 borders – with the possible exception of Jerusalem – will be the starting point for any president, with adjustments for Jewish population centers in the West Bank.

Both Sen. McCain and President Bush have demonstrated a healthy respect for Israeli interests. Certainly a President John Kerry or a President Al Gore would have been more likely to impose more concessions on Israel in order to bring about a settlement.

Bruce Wallach
New York, NY
McCain And Israel (II)

Those who were so quick to criticize Sen. McCain for his comments to Haaretz fail to realize that it’s always been U.S. policy that eventually, in exchange for Arab recognition of Israel’s right to exist and a formal peace treaty, Israel will have to cede most of the territory it won in the Six-Day War. It’s also the policy now supported by a majority of Israelis.

To take umbrage over McCain’s frank comments, whether or not Haaretz took them out of context, is unfair and terribly childish. Why should he be expected to hold views to the right of most Israelis? The last time I checked, McCain was a senator from Arizona, not a Knesset member from Kiryat Arba.

Menachem Gelb
Market For Rabbi Weiss’s Ideas

You have made some very valid points about Rabbi Avi Weiss’s departures from traditional Jewish practice and teaching. Certainly the expectation is that his yeshiva will turn out rabbis who will tend to perpetuate his thinking. What I think you are overlooking, however, is the fact that there is a huge market for what he is selling.

Rabbi Weiss’s ideas may not resonate with The Jewish Press (it is to your credit that you feature him as a columnist despite your concerns with many of his ideas) or with many others in the frum community. But there are an awful lot of Jews out there who are looking for alternatives to normative Orthodoxy and who don’t really care whether Rabbi Weiss’s innovations pass stringent halachic muster.

Evan Lazaroff
(Via E-Mail)
Shortsighted Approach

I was amused by the RCA’s immediate and very public response to a recent front-page story in The Jewish Week on the questioning of RCA conversions – including many involving the RCA’s av bet din, Rabbi Gedaliah Dov Schwartz – by Israeli rabbinic authorities.

But when The Jewish Press broke the story – several weeks before The Jewish Week ran its article – of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate’s problems with Rabbi Schwartz’s conversions, the RCA basically ignored it.

I think it’s reasonable to assume that far more of the RCA’s natural constituency read The Jewish Press than they do any other Jewish newspaper. So it strikes me as curiously shortsighted of the RCA to continually stonewall and otherwise slight The Jewish Press, which, as you reported, was the case whenever you attempted to get comments from RCA officials on the Tendler matter, and which we see is the case in this latest controversy.

I know my perception of the RCA certainly has changed for the worse over the past year.

Henry Wasserman
(Via E-Mail)
‘Meek Nonentities’

Your editorial last week titled “Iran’s Goal” points to the sad fact that the Jewish community has been hijacked by those so-called leaders who have political agendas of their own. I’m sure I speak for many when I question how a negative spin could possibly be put on President Bush’s declaration of solidarity with Israel in the face of Iran’s threat to nuke the Jewish state.

I wonder if party affiliation comes into play here. Most of these “leaders” are staunch liberals and loyal Democrats. You hardly heard a peep from any of them when Democrat Bill Clinton was interfering in Israeli elections and strong-arming Netanyahu and Barak at Wye River and Camp David. But when a Republican president boldly puts the word and prestige of America squarely in Israel’s corner, these usually meek nonentities suddenly find their voices and release a torrent of non-gratitude at the president. How absolutely pathetic.

David Grabelsky
San Antonio, TX
Wrong Message

I was amazed to read of the criticism in certain Jewish quarters of President Bush’s vow to stand by Israel in any confrontation with Iran. These clowns passing for “leaders” claim that Bush’s declaration gives the erroneous impression that U.S. policy is designed to meet Israeli interests. To those predisposed to hating Jews and Israel, such protestations mean nothing. But to political leaders like President Bush, the message these mediocrities are sending is that forthright support for Israel is unappreciated and perhaps counterproductive.

Paul Halper
(Via E-Mail)
Principled Editorial

I was impressed with last week’s “Misleading Appreciation” editorial, which sharply criticized a two-page advertisement that had recently appeared in The Jewish Press. (You previously had published a letter from Dr. Marvin Schick critical of the same ad). Further, last week’s issue not only contained your editorial taking issue with the ad, it happened to also contain another (full page) advertisement from the same group.

It’s refreshing to see a publication that is not afraid to disagree with its own advertisers on matters of principle.

Shmuel Molinsky
New York, NY
Behind The Numbers

Last week’s otherwise cogent editorial on the Israeli Supreme Court’s 6-5 immigration decision missed one important point. While six of the eleven judges voted not to strike down the law as being unduly violative of the rights of Israeli Arabs, one of the six judges voted that way only because the law was due to expire shortly. In his opinion, he seemed to suggest that should there be an attempt to reenact a similar measure, he would vote to strike it down.

In sum, if you look behind the numbers, there appears to be a majority on the Israeli Supreme Court that does not think an Israeli government has the right to restrict immigration in a manner that singles out Arab Israelis or is based upon population projections.

Harold Rosenzweig
(Via E-Mail)
Forgiving Nazis

Eva Moses Kor, who along with her identical twin was one of the inmates on whom the infamous Dr. Mengele did experiments, has declared that she forgives Mengele, and by extension all Nazis. (See “Letting Go of the Death Camps,” film review, New York Times, May 18, about the movie “Forgiving Dr. Mengele.”) In so doing, she speaks for herself only, she says.

I have an aunt who survived Auschwitz and Mengele’s experiments. She suffers to this day from the hell she went through. She wouldn’t agree with Eva Moses Kor.

Many years ago, I was waiting for a bus at Jaffa Gate outside the Old City of Jerusalem. A young man approached me and said, “I see you are Jewish. I am German and I came to Israel to beg forgiveness for the deeds of my father. I ask you for forgiveness.”

I told him that while I admired his action, he had the wrong address. Only the victims can forgive.

Many years have passed. I have not forgotten that young man’s search for inner peace. But the victims were too numerous, and who can speak in their name?

Dr. Elie Feuerwerker
Highland Park, NJ